by Larry Smith
In a fiery and funny talk at TED, the Internet clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman condemned the way we eat and why it's putting the entire planet at risk.
"nearly one fifth of all greenhouse gas is generated by livestock production - more than transportation," he said. "You can make all the jokes you want about cow farts, but methane is 20 times more poisonous than CO2.
"Livestock is also one of the biggest culprits in land degradation, air and water pollution, water shortages. and loss of biodiversity. Half the antiobiotics in this country are not administered to people but to animals.
"There's no question that so-called lifestyle diseases are far more prevalent as a direct result of eating a Western diet. Overconsumption of animals (and junk food) is the root of our problem. The evidence is clear that plants promote health."
Bittman points out that 70 per cent of agricultural land on Earth - and 30 per cent of the total land surface - is devoted to raising the animals we all eat. And we don't need meat to remain healthy. In fact, quite the opposite.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
This site (http://www.ted.com) makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks are now available, with more added each week.